Dates revealed for possible return of Edinburgh Festival shows and concerts in Scotland

Outdoor events are set to be allowed during the final week of the Edinburgh Festival under a new timetable for easing lockdown restrictions which would allow concert venues and theatres to reopen in September.

Dancers on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Picture: Claudine Quinn
Dancers on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Picture: Claudine Quinn

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the provisional dates during an update for MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, when she also revealed that she had agreed to boost a lifeline fund for performing arts venues to £12.5 million.

The new timetable, which sets out “indicative dates,” could see outdoor theatre, comedy, dance and music events held outdoors in Edinburgh – despite the festivals being officially called off in April. Most festivals are planning online programmes.

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Only drive-in events are possible outdoors under the current lockdown rules however a new timetable would allow limited capacity shows to resume with social distancing restrictions in place from Monday 24 August.

Sneaky Pete's is one of Edinburgh's best-known live music venues.

However organisers of events at the Edinburgh festivals will not expected to know until the next official review date on 20 August whether they will definitely be able to go ahead or not.

Meanwhile concert halls, theatres and other performing arts centres have been give a provisional reopening date on Monday 14 September.

However no date has been pencilled in yet for nightclubs to be able to reopen their doors.

Meanwhile it was revealed that an additional £2.5m has been pledged by the Scottish Government to help performing arts venues withstand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dancers at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge

Creative Scotland said the £12.5m “relief fund” would be see £7m allocated to venues which it was already funding, with the remainder ringfenced for venues which do not get any support from the government’s arts agency.

The move could help Scotland’s cash-strapped comedy clubs and promoters who have been lobbying for recognition.

The Scottish Government has already separately ringfenced £2.2 million for grassroots music venues, £10 million to help reboot the events sector and £4 million for independent museums and galleries around the country.

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Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our world-class performing arts venues have suffered immensely from the impacts of coronavirus. They were among some of the first businesses to close and sadly, will be amongst the last to reopen.

“We worked hard to get much-needed funding out as quickly as possible to the culture sector to help organisations cope with the immediate effects of the pandemic, and this new fund recognises the particular difficulties which continue to be felt by performing arts venues.

“I’m pleased to announce we have increased the fund to £12.5 million, which will ensure even more venues can get financial support to help them through this challenging time.”

Creative Scotland chief executive Iain Munro said: “We very much welcome this funding from Scottish Government which provides some much needed relief for performing arts venues in Scotland, venues which are facing significant financial challenges due to their continued closure in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"We have worked at pace to open this fund for application as quickly as possible.

“Beyond this fund, we are also working closely with the Scottish Government on further measures to provide emergency support for the culture sector and further details will be announced as soon as possible.”

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